Category: News Clips

Title: Left, Right & Center Live on the Hilltop

“Anyone want déjà vu,” David Greene, host of Left, Right & Center, LCRW’s political podcast, asked an energetic crowd to kick off a late night live recording of the podcast on Thursday, April 28, in Georgetown’s Lohrfink Auditorium.

Greene jumped right into current events, referring to President Biden’s announcement to seek reelection – which might signal a heated rematch between Biden and former President Donald Trump who lost his bid for reelection in 2020.

Joining Greene – the “center” – on stage were panelists Sarah Isgur, senior editor of The Dispatch, and Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service (GU Politics) Executive Director Mo Elleithee, the right and left respectively. 

On the topic of Biden, both Isgur and Elleithee offered their perspectives on the viability of Biden winning reelection as the incumbent in the upcoming 2024 presidential election. 

“People just think he’s a genuine real guy and I think they like that about him. So that’s number one,” said Elleithee, arguing his point on why Biden is a strong candidate heading into 2024. “He’s going to point to the economy, he’s going to point to more jobs, he’s going to point to getting COVID under control.”

Isgur, on the other hand, argued many Democrats support Biden only because they feel he is better than the alternative – despite beliefs there are more preferred or younger candidates better suited for the role. 

“I think people are ready to turn the page, quote, unquote, away from the World War II era babies that we’re still electing. We skipped an entire generation at this point,” said Isgur.

But while the show kicked off with 2024, it quickly swung back around to current issues facing the country. 

Risk Assessment: TikTok

Juliette Kayyem, the former Assistant Secretary of Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security, joined the cast on stage to discuss the current battle over TikTok and its influence on national security. 

“Is this freak out over TikTok legit, like are the Chinese spying on us through TikTok,” asked Greene.

Kayyem said the main pressure point with TikTok is that it is owned by a Chinese company and with over 100 million American users there is concern the Chinese government could be using the app to access personal data or track locations. 

And while this might not be of large concern to many American users, there is fear for dissidents or journalists who might need an added layer of privacy and security – especially when it comes to dealing with foreign and authoritative governments.  

“I see this as a larger concern about China and that the battlefield we’ve all somehow decided to fight it on is TikTok,” said Kayyem, while also acknowledging concerns about privacy and algorithm tampering were rooted in legitimate concern.

The Power of Healing with Music

The week before Left, Right & Center came to the Hilltop, Greene had the opportunity to travel with Ketch Secor and his band, Old Crow Medicine Show, through North Carolina.

Greene and Secor visited gun stores and spoke with staunch defenders of the second amendment to gain new perspectives and have conversations of respect with those who have different views on such a hotly contested issue.

These conversations also provided another avenue for Secor to process the deadly Covenant School shooting that shook Nashville and the nation just weeks before.

And it was through talking to people who shared different beliefs that he found a common thread which he believes binds people no matter what walk of life they come from.

“Pain is the thing that the sides have in common,” said Secor, who flew in from Nashville that morning to join the show. “You know, that’s where we meet – right and left come together at this point of our shared grief for the ones that we love. I don’t think there’s anything better to unite on.”

While on stage, Secor spoke to his experience as a musician and how he believes music can help us bridge our divides and heal. He shared how he is using his platform in the country music scene to embody and uplift the change he hopes to help bring to his own community.

Afterward, Secor, alongside Old Crow Medicine Show percussionist Dante Pope, gave a live performance of “Louder Than Guns,” the band’s newest release in the aftermath of the Covenant shooting, to round out the evening.

A Forum for Civility

Longtime listeners of Left, Right & Center know it’s no secret Isgur and Elleithee disagree on nearly every issue. However, one thing they both agree on is the importance of being able to sit down and have a productive and respectful conversation.

And the forum originally bringing Isgur and Elleithee together for civil discourse? A food truck.

Situated between the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee was a line of food trucks where the two met in line, forging a friendship stemming from a mutual love of French fries. 

After lunch, the two would go back to their respective headquarters and battle it out for their party’s agenda. But the next day they always were able to meet on neutral ground – enjoying their bipartisan French fries and bridging the partisan divide.

In a way, Greene’s podcast has become an extension of the food trucks, providing the perfect opportunity for the two sides to come together and defend their stances on hot button issues in a civil manner.

Aryaman Sharma (SFS ‘24), the incoming undergraduate chair for the GU Politics Student Advisory Board, felt inspired leaving the recording where he was able to witness productive and civilized conversations play out in front of him. It was a reprieve from much of the polarized discourse he sees happening every day in D.C.

“I believe it’s more important than ever to seek different perspectives and learn how to coexist happily with those whom we disagree with,” said Sharma. “It was so insightful being able to do that live with music, friends and a lively crowd in Lohrfink Auditorium.” 

Fiona Gallagher (SFS ‘25), managing director of GU Politics’ student-run podcast “The Fly,” felt similarly to Sharma.

The Left, Right & Center podcast demonstrates how we can have civil conversations about controversial topics with people who are diametrically opposed something that is too often missing in our political discourse,” said Gallagher. “This experience inspires me to continue pursuing these conversations at Georgetown and on ‘The Fly’.” 

You can listen to the full episode here.

This article was written by Lacy Nelson (MPS ’24), a graduate journalism student at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies.